Owners say economic downturn won’t change plans

Expand your mind and recharge your soul. Gateway Canyons Resort is banking on that proposition, even as the economy spirals downward. 

“I would not compare Gateway Canyons Resort apples to apples to resorts in general ...

This is designed for the long haul,” said Nancy Stover, who was first employed in 1987 by John Hendricks, owner of Gateway Canyons Resort and founder of the Discovery channel.

“This is all centered on a commitment of learning and firsthand access to brilliant minds and thought leaders and creating a community of thought.”

But it has not been enough to buffer against these bruising economic times. Last year the resort, which opened in 2005, had to lay off a number of employees. Reservations are down, and Gateway Canyons has slowed its aggressive building schedule, holding for the moment at 56 guest rooms.

Lee Bowden, general manager of the resort, was asked: How’s business?

“Not great,” he said. “This is our off-season.”

To encourage visitors, the resort is running weekend specials that start at $60 per person per night. Normal off-season rates are $119 per night and can hit $200 per night during peak months of April through October.

Resort officials say Gateway’s unique treasures — such as Indian rock art and a birthing rock, long abandoned cabins and rare exposed Precambrian rock — will endure long after this economic crisis has passed and will be a draw for future tourists.

“I consider it sacred ground,” Stover said.

Stover recently was named the president and chief executive officer of Experius for Hendricks Investment Holdings. She said Experius sums up the direction, mission and vision of the resort.

“A new and smarter approach to living in the world,” she said.

The focal point of the Experius Academy is anticipated to be up and running by 2010 when the Palisade Events Center is built.

The vision is for weeklong vacation packages that combine lectures from some of the top minds in the country with the canyon’s natural wonders.

“So when you go home, you haven’t just rested and recreated your physical side,” Stover said.

The resort is building the 250-seat Mission Bell Events Center and Pavilion. In the next four years “three more luxury lodges are planned at Gateway Canyons Resort: the Ponds Resort Lodge, the Gardens Resort Lodge and the Hacienda Club,” according to the resort’s Web site.


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